Category Archives: One Pot Wonders

Puy Lentil, Pork & Fennel Sausage Stew with Juniper Berries

Last winter I visited some friends who live in country Victoria and they made this delicious stew for me – a simmered sausage and lentil dish with juniper berries. I never got the recipe from them, but I came up with my own and I’ve been making this ever since. This is an incredibly tasty dish – the flavours are intense and piquant, and the combination of sausages and lentils is one I find irresistable.

It’s really important to get good quality sausages for this. You don’t have to use pork and fennel, but I’ve made it with other types of sausages and I can tell you it won’t be quite as good. Whatever type you choose, just make it is the best quality you can find.

Don’t be tempted to cut corners by using tinned lentils, or substituting the Puy lentils for red or green ones – you won’t get the same result unless you use the little black dried lentils that hold their shape when cooked.

Serves 5-6

  • 500 g good quality pork & fennel sausages (from a continental butcher, if you have one near you)
  • 2 cups Puy (French) lentils
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (use malt vinegar if you can’t get sherry vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed a bit to release their flavour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • water

Wash the lentils in cold water, place in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes, strain and set aside.

While the lentils are simmering, slice the sausages into approx 10cm pieces and set aside. Chop the onion and saute with olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan or casserole dish for about 5 minutes. Dice the celery and carrot, and add to the onions with the garlic clove, finely chopped and the rosemary. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are just softening.

Add the sausages cook, turning, for approx 5 minutes until the sausages are just browning on all sides. Add the vinegar and cook until it’s slightly evaporated – just half a minute or so –  then add the red wine and do the same. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, chilli, juniper berries, and bay leaves. Swish the water around in the tomato cans and add. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the stew on a low heat for approx 45 minutes – checking frequently to ensure it’s not catching on the bottom, and to add more water if required.

I like to serve this with big hunks of sourdough bread and steamed silverbeet chopped and tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. And a glass of red wine, of course 🙂

Tuna, Barbecued Capsicum & Basil Stew

We’re facing a few sweltering days here in Melbourne, so I’m cooking things that don’t need the oven turned on.  At the same time, I want food that is somewhat hearty as we’ve been spending so much time at the pool, and we are coming home ravenous. This scrumptious one pot tuna dish needs only the barbecue and the stove top and it can be mostly made ahead of time.  The capsicum is roasted on the barbecue, peeled and pureed before adding to the stew. It creates a fantastic depth of flavour.

Serves 3-4

  • 1 piece of fresh tuna, tail end if possible, about 300 grams
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • dash of dry white wine
  • 1 x 400 g tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 12 fresh picked basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

First, barbecue the capsicum on a hot, covered barbecue, turning on all sides, until soft and the skin is blackening (but not too charred).  This should take about 20 minutes.  When cooked (it will be soft on all sides) remove with tongs and place in a plastic bag to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Saute the onion in some extra virgin olive oil until soft, about five minutes, stirring a few times, then add the garlic, paprika and tomato paste, stirring around for a minute or two until the paste bubbles and browns a little. Add a dash of white wine, simmer for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes and chilli.  Simmer on low for about 15 minutes.

When the capsicum is cool enough to handle, remove from the bag and take the skin off.  Remove the stalk and seeds and any white or unripe parts of the inside. Puree with a hand held mixer, or in the food processor. Add to the sauce.

Now add the piece of tuna to the sauce (at this point you could transfer to a baking dish and finish it, covered, on the barbecue if it’s getting too hot inside). Cover, reduce to a low to medium heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, depending on how you like your tuna cooked, and how thick the piece is.   Check at 10 minutes, then every five minutes after that, by inserting a knife deep into the piece of tuna, about halfway through it. I like it a little rare on the inside, so I cooked it for 15 minutes.

During the last five minutes of cooking, tear up the basil leaves and add to the pot. It’s perfect served with a green salad, and some garlicky crostini made on the barbecue – take some sourdough baguette slices, brush with olive oil on both sides, barbecue on each side until just crunchy, and rub a fresh garlic clove on one side when done.

Leftovers can be turned into a pasta sauce 🙂

One Pot Chicken Cacciatore and Wholemeal Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

People, I’m on a roll here. I’ve come up with ANOTHER one-pot, healthy, tasty, prep-under-15-minutes mid-week marvel, and I am feeling pretty pleased with myself.

I was satisfied enough with my previous attempts at cooking chicken cacciatore with the pasta in the one pot, but something always bugged me about it.  It just wasn’t tasty enough, and I felt it took a little too long to bother with on a weeknight. Also, in the past, I used regular pasta, which cooked way too soft. If al dente translates as “to the tooth”, then this pasta, after simmering in the stew for an hour, would have been more al dentiera.

My tinkering was thus: remove some of the ingredients that weren’t doing much for the dish, add porcini mushrooms, and use wholemeal pasta which is thicker and better suited.  Result: a more hearty, flavourome and better textured dish that was easier to make.  Perfect.

I like to serve this with a bowl of steamed broccolini.

Serves 3-4

  • 4 skinless chicken drumsticks
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 10 g porcini mushrooms
  • 1 x 400 g tin organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup wholemeal penne, or similar sized pasta
  • chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 180 c.

Pour 150 ml boiling water over the porcini mushrooms in a bowl or jug, and leave to steep with a plate over the top.

In a heavy bottomed baking dish, saute the onion in some olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and chicken pieces and brown the chicken on both sides.  Add the bay leaf, paprika and tomatoes.  Drain the mushrooms, keeping the liquid and adding to the pot.  Roughly chop the mushrooms and add, along with the pasta, and 400 ml water. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and bake for 1 hour, checking halfway through and stirring things around a bit.  Scatter over the parsley and serve.

Oven Baked Ratatouille and Salmon

I’m over the moon about this one dish wonder. It took me all of 10 minutes to prepare, and I was so pleased with the result.

I have made ratatouille many times, and I don’t mind at all having to stand at the stove gently sauteeing each ingredient then leaving it to simmer while I keep coming back to it.

But in the middle of the week when you come home from work, spending an hour in the kitchen is probably the last thing you feel like doing.

I had this idea to bake the ratatouille to save time, and add a salmon fillet on the top at the end.  It worked, everything cooked beautifully. And while the ratatouille is cooking, you can be doing all those other things you have to do on school nights.

Here are all the boxes this dish ticks for me:

  1. Super quick to prepare (about 10 minutes) – tick
  2. Healthy – tick
  3. Only one dish to wash up – tick
  4. Easy to make – tick
  5. Delicious – tick tick tick!
  6. Versatile – tick (you could do a tray of baked garlic potatoes and you have a dinner party meal, or just serve it with bread for an easy mid-week dinner)

I love ratatouille with fish. You could use any fish fillets you like here.

Serves 2

  • 1 eggplant, cut into about 5cm pieces
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into about 5 cm pieces
  • 1 x 400 g tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 anchovie fillets, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons caramelised onion relish (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • lemon

Preheat the oven to 170 c.  Place the onion, garlic and some olive oil (about a tablespoon) in the bottom of a baking dish and toss to coat.  Add the vegetables, tomatoes, paprika, anchovies and relish, and a dash of water (just enough to rinse out the tomato tin).  Mix well to combine.

Cover with foil and bake for one hour, checking once to mix things around a little.

Put the salmon fillet in a bowl or clean bag and drizzle some olive in, zest some of the lemon, and squeeze a little of the lemon juice in.  Add some cracked pepper, toss to coat, and place on top of the ratatouille.  Add a little water around the edges of the pan if you think it needs it.

Put it back in the oven, uncovered, turn the heat up to 200 and cook for about 12 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet (a few minutes more if its a large fillet).

Tear up the basil leaves and scatter over the top.

Serve with some fresh crusty bread, or if you can be bothered, baked potatoes.


Chicken, Artichoke and Preserved Lemon with Basmati Rice

Another one pot wonder that is great for a quick, easy and delicious mid week meal.

The flavours of this dish are lovely, comforting and warming, yet tangy and tasty.  The basmati rice adds such a wonderful aroma – don’t substitute it.

If you keep a jar of pitted olives and a jar of artichokes in your fridge, this dish will always be within easy reach.

To make a vegetarian version of this dish, double the quantity of artichokes and olives, and add some toasted pine nuts and toasted flaked almonds at the end. And of course, use vegie stock.

Prepare all the ingredients before starting and have them ready to add as you go – it will all come together so much quicker.

Serves 4

  • 2 chicken breast fillets sliced into thin strips (or 3 thigh fillets but trim the fat)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablepsoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice – unwashed
  • 1 cup chopped marinated artichoke pieces (discarding any sharp end bits)
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • The rind of 1 quarter of preserved lemon, diced (if you don’t have any, use the zest of 1 small lemon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • pepper
  • extra parsley

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan that has a lid.  Saute the onions for about 5 minutes until soft, stirring.  Add the garlic, stir. Add the chicken pieces and sauté until the pieces are golden.

Add the unwashed rice, and stir around to coat in the pan oils.  Add the lemon, artichokes, olives, bay leaf, parsley and pepper (only use salt if not using preserved lemon, which is salty enough).  Stir through then add the stock.

Scrape down the sides of the pan to ensure all the rice grains are in the mix and not stuck to the side.  Place a clean dry tea towel over the top of the pot, put the lid on, and fold up the sides of the tea towels over the lid of the pot.

(This is a trick I learnt from one of my favourite cookbook authors, the great Claudia Roden. The cloth absorbs excess steam, helping the rice to cook without becoming gluggy).

Turn the heat down very low, and steam for 15 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes to avoid burning and sticking. You may or may not need to add a dash of water, if it seems to be drying out or burning.  Drop the heat even further if it is burning.

When finished, turn off and leave the rice to continue cooking/steaming with the lid on for 5-10 minutes.

Scatter with extra chopped parsley (and toasted nuts if you wish) before serving.

BAZ THE WINO SAYS:

I reckon Bec only cooked this because she knew it would go so well with Shiraz, and that’s what we’re drinking. Tahbilk Shiraz from central Victoria has the necessary spice and weight to stand up to the flavours of the olives and lemon, and isn’t hard to find – Dan’s do it for about $16.

Another great find is Barossa Valley Estates’ E Minor Shiraz, which comes with a sensational pedigree (made by former Grange winemaker John Duval and little brother to the E&E Black Pepper Shiraz which consistently outscores Grange in the major wine mags) and is full of lovely dark fruit without being over-oaked like so much SA shiraz. It can be had for about $13 at Dan’s which is cracking value.

Vegetable Tagine with Chicken Meatballs and Cous Cous

This one’s for a friend in London, Kyleigh, who emailed me expressing interest in more one pot dishes.  In her flat she shares with her hubby, there’s an electric stove with no oven, and only two elements.  So this one’s for you Kyleigh!  Another friend, Sam, asked me on the weekend for cous cous tips.  While this dish has the cous cous incorporated in it, I’ve also included my method for making it separately at the end – just for you, Miss Sam.  If anyone’s got better ways to do cous cous, I’d love to hear from them!

This is a really lovely dish… fragrant, aromatic, healthy, hearty. But its also very practical, with the meatballs and cous cous all cooked together in the same pot.  I haven’t included a picture, as its not really the prettiest of dishes, but it makes up for it in convenience and yum factor.

Obviously, vegetarians can leave out the meatballs, the dish is still great without them, perhaps just add another type of vegie – like green beans.  I use homemade chermoula – a Moroccan paste that forms the basis of many tagines – but if you want to take a shortcut and buy some, then go right ahead.  If you make up the chermoula and the meatballs the day before, you’ll be amazed at how quickly this dish comes together.

For the chermoula… in a food processor, make a paste out of the following:

  • a bunch of flat leaf parsley (leave a little aside, for serving)
  • half a bunch of coriander
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 70 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of a lemon

Note: I leave chilli out of this because I make it kid-friendly, but it would normally have some chilli powder or flakes  as well.  (I get around this for myself by having a tube of Harissa paste in my fridge at all times, which I add to my serving).

For the meatballs:

  • 300 grams free range or organic chicken mince
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
  • 1/3 teaspoon cummin powder
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Mix all the ingredients until combined well.  Roll out little balls about 4cm in diamater. You don’t want them too big, they can take too long to steam in the stew and come out pink in the middle.  Toss them in the flour and set aside. (You can even freeze them at this point – in fact its a great idea to double this quantity and freeze a batch for next time).

For the tagine:

  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 tin chick peas
  • 1 tin organic diced tomatoes
  • 250 ml chicken or vegie stock
  • 6 dates, finely chopped (you can use prunes or apricots if you wish, but I find them a bit much; the dates lend a subtle fruity flavour and when chopped small they melt into the dish)
  • 1/3 cup cous cous
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • plain yoghurt

Heat the oil in a tagine if you have one (I do thanks to my sister Charlie, who gave me one for my 40th birthday!) or a heavy based casserole dish with a lid.   Toss in the sweet potato and the eggplant and cook over a medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.  The eggplant will absorb most of the oil, so keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn, and if its drying out add a few splashes of water.

Add the chermoula (you may not need to use it all), coat the vegies and cook for a minute or two.  Add the dates, cinnamon stick, chick peas, tomatoes and stock and stir through.  Allow it to come to a strong simmer, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer gently for 15 minutes.  If you haven’t made the meatballs in advance, do so now.

After at least 15 minutes of simmering (it doesn’t matter if it simmers a bit longer) shower the cous cous over the stew and stir it through.  Add the meatballs and gently coat them with the stew.  Put the lid on, reduce the heat to very low, and simmer for 20 minutes, checking at least twice as you go to turn the meatballs and ensure it isn’t burning.  You might need to add a little water toward the end.

Serve scattered with slivered almonds and chopped parsley, and some plain yoghurt.

Cous Cous

If you want to make the cous cous separately this is my quick and simple method:

Place half a cup of cous cous in a bowl.  Pour over 80 ml of boiling chicken or veg stock (the liquid should just cover the grains) and sit a plate on top for 10 minutes. Mix in a little butter (about half a teaspoon), and stir through some currants and toasted pine nuts, or whatever other accompaniments you favour.

This will make enough for 2 people.

One Pot Chicken Cacciatore And Pasta

I am constantly thinking of dishes that are a complete meal made in one pot.  What’s not to like about them?  There’s little washing up, no need for separately cooking pasta, potatoes or rice, and they’re usually fast.  Perfect for busy households.

I went to make Chicken Cacciatore – that dependable classic – recently. I was tired after a long day at work, with a hungry, whiny child to feed.   Feeling weary at the prospect of also having to cook the pasta, I decided to add some stock to the casserole and cook the pasta with it.  I don’t know if I can go back now.

This will be enough for about 4 people. Leftovers can be frozen.

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and squashed

1 kilo skinless chicken pieces (buy them skinned and save time, but don’t use fillets, you want pieces on the bone)

2 celery stalks thinly sliced, plus the centre yellow stalks and leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 fresh bay leaf

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 tins of 440 gram organic diced tomatoes

500 ml chicken stock (you can use water if you don’t have any stock, the flavour won’t be quite the same though)

1.5 cups medium sized dried pasta, such as shells, or elbows

Season the chicken pieces with a little salt and pepper.  In a heavy based pot or casserole dish that has a lid, heat some olive oil and over a medium heat, brown the chicken pieces on each side.  You’ll need to do this in a few batches.

Put chicken pieces on a plate as they are browned.

Using the same pan as the chicken, sauté the onion, garlic clove and celery until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring around consistently.

Add the parsley, bay leaf, rosemary and paprika and stir. Add the tomatoes, chicken pieces, stock, and pasta.  Bring gently to the boil, then reduce heat to the lowest possible, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, checking once or twice to ensure things aren’t sticking, or furiously bubbling.

I let this cool down a bit before serving, allowing the pasta to expand a little more.  I like to serve this topped with chopped parsley, and some garlicky crostini on the side for dipping.

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